RIO DE JANEIRO, (WORLD RUGBY) – With anticipation building as rugby prepares for its return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 92 years, the Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is finally ready for action.
The grass has been laid, the pitch marked out, the seating and floodlights installed in the temporary stadium and the posts were the final major structure to be put in place by venue organisers. The Deodoro Stadium will also host the equestrian, combined running and shooting sections of the modern pentathlon during the 2016 Games.
The rugby gets underway on 6 August when the women of France and Spain face off, while the men get underway on Tuesday, 9 August, when Australia play France.
Each day’s action is split into two sessions with six matches involving all 12 teams taking place during each session of the early stages. The final session on day three will include four matches and the medal ceremony as the identity of rugby’s first Olympic champions in 92 years will finally be known.
In both competitions, the 12 sides are split into three pools of four with those matches taking place over the first day and a half. The top two teams from each pool, plus the two best third-placed sides, will progress to the last eight.
Those quarter-finals take place on the second session of day two while the resultant semi-finals will happen in the first session of day three along with matches to decide lower placings. As excitement builds towards the end, the fifth to eighth-place matches, the bronze medal match and then the battle for gold will light up the Games.
Meanwhile, with just 10 days to go, the 24 teams for rugby sevens’ debut on the Olympic Games stage at Rio 2016 are arriving in Brazil.
Kenya’s men’s and women’s team are already on the ground, with Australia’s teams currently en route.
All teams were officially announced last week and include some famous names – double Rugby World Cup-winner Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand), rugby’s fastest man Carlin Isles (USA), sevens’ most prolific try-scorer Collins Injera (Kenya), Argentina’s Rugby World Cup star Juan Imhoff and NFL Super Bowl-winner Nate Ebner.
A roster full of women’s stars includes Australia’s speedster Ellia Green, all-time series leading try-scorer Portia Woodman (New Zealand), USA inspiration Jillion Potter and Canada captain Jen Kish.
World Rugby is encouraging fans to get involved, celebrate rugby’s inclusion and join the conversation on social media using the #Rugby and #RoadToRio hashtags, while tickets are still available to see the sevens stars in action via the Rio 2016 website.
Rugby has appeared four times at the Olympic Games with USA the reigning champions from the 1924 Paris Games.